Many of you have written to offer your advice in raising children while one parent is on the road. The recurring sentiment is that both parents need to be involved, despite the distance between the driver and his family. The telephone offers one connection between both worlds, but when a child can accompany the traveling parent, everyone can benefit.
In an earlier column, we addressed the advantages of having a child join Mom or Dad in the truck. The youngster will not only be able to understand their parent's lifestyle better, he or she will be exposed to new experiences. Traveling allows a child to see how this nation's terrain varies from the flat fields in Kansas to the mountains in Virginia. From the East Coast to the West Coast, the view changes as rapidly as the temperature and the dialect. Every child should have the opportunity to see other parts of the U.S., even if it is from the cab of a truck.
Some parents have taken this idea to the extreme, and have brought their families with them for extended periods. Maybe when the children are younger and don't have commitments at home, this is easier. What about the school-aged child whose parents decide to teach them at "home?" The term "home schooling" doesn't work here, as the lessons will take place from a semi tractor, so maybe "truck schooling" is more appropriate.
Taking your child out of the public schools is no longer such a rare move, as parents are feeling the need to educate their youngsters in a better environment. Between gangs, drugs and the peer pressure to conform, today's youth are subjected to more than lessons in the classroom. So in response, families are taking this responsibility upon themselves. It's not an easy task, but there are organizations and groups that will assist parents in this endeavor.
It may be easier for the parent at home to be in charge of teaching their children, but some drivers have accepted this challenge. A driver from Oregon calls himself an "away-from-home-schooling" dad. He takes his 11-year-old son on the road with him, "with log books and school books in hand." For the past few years, he has been his son's teacher while he earns a living as a professional driver. He lists the benefits of the arrangement by noting that he enjoys watching his son learn, and they make every effort to turn their trips into educational opportunities. The Seattle Air Museum was a favorite stop, but they have traveled together through the entire 48 states and parts of Canada. This father, driver, and teacher may wear many hats, but he seems to accept these roles without apprehension. He notes that the arrangement also allows his wife to pursue other things that demand her time, although her concern over their safety is doubled when their son is with him during the winter driving season. While he does not advocate this arrangement for everyone, he is pleased with this added responsibility.
This driver may have a wonderful arrangement, but how many carriers allow children to accompany their drivers? What about leaving youngsters in the cab when the driver must unload? Are children allowed on the loading docks or the break rooms? How do drivers find the time to instruct their children while working? Are truckstops family-friendly? Do insurance carriers cover children under 12 in the truck? Do scale masters question drivers with kids in their cabs? These are all concerns that should be addressed before the decision is made to educate a child on the road.
No doubt there are many trucking families that home school their kids, but how many are taught in the truck? If you send your child on the road with the intent to educate, please write to us and share your successes and your areas of concern. Home schooling is a way to make sure your child gets an education you have control over. For trucking families, the added challenges are unique.
Please write or e-mail at the address below. Be sure to include your name, as anonymous submissions will not be accepted. Ellen Voie c/o Land Line Magazine, P.O. Box L, Grain Valley, MO 64029 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.